Running a non-profit event space like a museum, library or historic venue (or even an indoor/outdoor venue like a zoo or botanical garden) requires a bit more organization than the typical venue.
Juggling two different tracks of events – in-house events that support their mission/audience base and private group events and rentals that help boost their revenue – can quickly become a cumbersome task that creates process gaps, continuity killers, collaboration conflict and more.
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum has one of the largest collections of vintage motorcycles in the world, with more than 1,600 motorcycles on display. They also boast a large event space and a full race track. Each year, the museum hosts up to 400 in-house and private events.
Prior to Planning Pod, the special event planning team relied on a complex event management system that required multiple platforms, manual transferring of information and hours of work updating event details.
“Before we used Planning Pod, my biggest challenge was that I had to open five or more different apps to manage all of the things related to all our events, from dealing with vendors to mapping out the space to invoicing. It took so much time, but now it’s all in one place with Planning Pod,” says Laura.
Planning Pod’s platform has helped them streamline their event processes and operations so much that our museum event management software is now saving them 32+ hours of busywork, nearly a full week of work, every month.
“I would say without hesitation that I’ve been able to get back a full day a week because of Planning Pod,” claims Laura. “Just being able to open one program and have everything there helps so much. Plus, I can do it from anywhere, anytime, in my office or at home.”
In this article, we will walk you through four functionality challenges Laura and her event manager Michael faced prior to adopting Planning Pod, including:
- Application overload: Struggling to manage event data across 5+ software apps, event CRMs, files and emails
- Hand-me-down processes: Navigating left-over, conflicting software solutions and outdated processes inherited by previous staff
- Unorganized ingenuity: Managing hundreds of unique in-house events with different components and event planning needs
- Tedious task lists: Staying on top of business and billing details for managing private/group events
If you relate to any of these challenges, you aren’t alone. Many venues waste many hours each week trying to stay on top of the information, data and details necessary to plan and host successful events. See how Planning Pod can help you streamline your processes and events … get started today >>
Challenge: Struggling to manage venue bookings across multiple software apps and tools
When Laura first joined the Barber Vintage Motorsports events team in 2015, they were using a variety of scattered and disconnected software tools to manage all of their in-house and private events.
“We had an in-house system for managing staffing and company documents. We had another program for dealing with the venue CRM, another for laying out floor spaces, a different one for managing contractors and another for invoicing. That’s not even including emails and all the electronic files and binders we used to try to keep tabs on everything,” says Laura.
This disconnected system of stand-alone applications, tools, manual processes, personal notes and files created gaps in the event booking process. For event venues, process gaps can cause important information to be lost, buried or outdated in one or more applications, ultimately leading to lost leads, forgotten details and unhappy clients.
Solution: An all-in-one venue management software for museums that connects all of the necessary tools into a single easy-to-use platform
Laura knew that there had to be a simpler solution to their event booking system dilemma. She began researching various applications online, such as Priava, Salesforce, Artifax, Eventpro, Argus and Doubleknot. However, it was when she came across Planning Pod that she knew she found the perfect platform that would serve all of her event planning needs.
“Once I found Planning Pod, I stopped looking,” says Laura. “I was drawn to it because of the number of things that it was able to handle that I previously needed 15 different tools to accomplish. It has made a tremendous difference in streamlining our events. ”
Laura appreciates that Planning Pod’s event planning tools cover everything she and other event planners on the team could possibly need – ticketing, online booking, floor planning, budgeting, fundraising, invoicing, pricing and more. The best part was that it could all be done from a single user-friendly application that is completely integrated, making it easy to automate processes and documents and eliminating the need for re-entering information elsewhere.
“Yes, it’s an all-in-one system, but how it assembles everything in one place and makes it easy to access details is really impressive. I mean, you should see some of the old binders that I have from years past that are really thick. Now, everything is tucked away neatly in Planning Pod. If I need to get to something, I open it up, and it’s a few clicks away,” says Laura.
Planning Pod’s 20+ integrated tools simplify staying organized, creating efficiencies that will shave hours or even days off your monthly schedule.
Its user-friendly interface makes learning and operating the numerous specialized tools quick and easy. In minutes, you can start effortlessly managing your events from timelines and budgeting to contracts and floorplans.
Planning Pod’s data-sharing features ensure that any information uploaded or updated in one area is automatically updated across the tools – never again double-enter details!
If you enter or change your event headcount, our system can automatically update anything attached to that number, including food-and-beverage quantities and invoice line items. If you add or update information in a timeline or proposal, that data is automatically updated in the BEO tool. It’s just another way our platform looks out for you.
Easy-to-configure automations and workflows make it easy to create processes and simplify event planning. It also ensures you never miss an important step or payment.
Automated email and text reminders let you, your team and even your clients know when a task needs to be done or if a payment is due. You can even set clients up with automated payments and let our system send payment installment invoices or make authorized charges automatically on the schedule you select.
Cleanly organized dashboards and reports provide real-time updates about upcoming, overdue, waiting and recently completed items across your accounts, enabling you to know at-a-glance exactly where your event planning processes stand. Custom reports allow you to drill deeper with detailed overviews on everything and anything you need.
Direct API integrations with Quickbooks, Gmail, Google Docs/Calendar, Outlook and more enable you to connect to other software providers. And with our connection to the Zapier integrations platform, you can share data with hundreds of popular platforms and mobile apps like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Salesforce and Slack.
Planning Pod stays on top of each step so you can have peace of mind knowing every detail is taken care of.
“Planning Pod has saved space in my filing cabinet. It has saved time in my life. And it has saved me from having more gray hairs,” says Laura.
Challenge: Navigating left-over, conflicting software solutions and outdated processes passed down by previous staff
One reality in the hospitality and event industry is that staff members come and go. Without a centralized and intuitive system in place, information can easily leave with the employee. Too much turnover can also make it difficult for new event professionals coming on board, as they are left with scattered systems and information left by their predecessors.
This is exactly what Laura faced when she joined Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. There had been a succession of event coordinators and managers, all of whom had different ways and methods of managing events and tracking details.
“Back then, about every 9 to 10 months, a new event coordinator would come on board because the other one would burn out. The new one would onboard and create all these new Word documents and Excel spreadsheets for keeping track of things,” says Laura.
As this library of overlapping and often conflicting files and templates grew, it became more and more unwieldy for the next coordinator to make sense of everything and stay on top of it all.
“You had to really dig through all of that stuff to try to find what would work or create your own,” says Laura. “We ended up with so many templates that conflicted with each other, and I was putting the same information in five different templates. It just became way too much to handle.”
Continuity killers, such as a contradicting and hard-to-follow system of tools and processes, make it difficult and sometimes impossible for another event planner or staff member to step in when someone leaves, becomes ill or simply needs to take some time off. Not having a centralized event management software with simple and intuitive processes on how it works is often the biggest continuity killer.
Solution: Event tools that provide an organized, centralized system for maintaining museum event and business data
Laura understands that having consistent, well-documented processes and tools that align with those processes and make them replicable is the key to running successful events and managing an event venue, which is what set her on her journey to discover Planning Pod.
Having a comprehensive museum event management solution that streamlines information into a centralized platform allows new hires, managers, co-workers and other team members to quickly get up to speed on what’s happened, what needs to happen and how it should be done. This way, you’ll never have to scramble to fill in gaps left behind by an exiting employee. And having an online software-as-a-service solution (SaaS) means that staff can access all data at any time, on any device.
“It was really critical having a centralized place to keep all our information organized so that everyone here at the Museum knows where things are stored and managed,” says Laura.
“For example, when people come in for a site visit, instead of having to physically have a folder where you keep all your handwritten notes, we can go into the notes section in Planning Pod on our mobile devices and see everything,” continues Laura. “That way, if Michael has spoken to someone and I haven’t, he can easily enter his notes there, and I can know what’s going on with clients. The same goes for emails, where we can see all event emails in the central Planning Pod inbox.”
Planning Pod helped the museum develop cross-organizational alignment, keeping everyone from all departments on the same page by using the same tools and processes in the same ways. Such alignment is critical for reducing errors, maximizing time and integrating efforts better.
A unified email inbox for all events streamlines email communications, ensuring that details don’t get lost in personal inboxes. Instead, your whole team can view and manage every event-related email sent to and received from vendors, internal staff, leads and clients.
Planning Pod’s email tool connects your existing email addresses and all event-related emails in one centralized email box so you never miss a message and can easily associate each email with the respective lead or event.
The customizable templates make it easy to create a set of standardized internal templates customized to your event venue’s specific needs so that staff can quickly access and implement them each time a new event is added to the calendar. You can build templates for to-do lists, checklists, itineraries and timelines, floorplans, budgets, proposals, contracts and invoices.
Having standard templates saves hours of time, prevents missed details and creates uniformity across events. Everyone will know exactly where to find information and no one wastes hours trying to recreate their own version of it.
Planning Pod also makes vendor and venue management easier by allowing you to track all vendors and venues assigned to events in one place. You can easily input and find contact information, assignments and tasks. Plus, with the handy budgeting tool, you can even keep track of their billings.
The centralized files and notes manager keeps all documents, notes and attachments organized in one place for all to access. That way, things don’t get lost on individual hard drives or sticky notes, and no one has to take time out of their day to hunt down information.
“Planning Pod has kept us organized, and that has freed up so much time for me to be able to do other things. My stacks of things I need to get done have gotten smaller because now I’m getting to them,” says Laura.
Challenge: Managing hundreds of unique in-house events with differing components and event planning needs
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum hosts up to 400 events each year, many of which are their own internal events like fundraising events, attendee meet-ups and their signature Vintage Festival, which brings as many as 75,000 people to the Museum grounds every October.
If that wasn’t enough, they often create new events as well, which calls on new thoughts and resources to make their latest vision come to life. Taking on this large of an event load requires an ability to manage thousands of details every month.
“The biggest challenge for me currently is that every event we produce is so different that you feel like you are starting from scratch every time. It is challenging, but it is also what keeps my job fresh and exciting,” says Laura.
While constantly hosting new and innovative events is an event planner’s dream, it adds additional stress to Laura’s workload. Being original and unique also means taking on new risks and doing things you haven’t done before, hoping that it all turns out successful.
Not having a functional software for event planning can make it all too easy to lose track of the planning process and drop the ball on those brilliant, out-of-the-box ideas.
Solution: Non-profit software for managing events and ticketing that provides structure to event planning and frees time for you to be creative
Monotonous tasks can be one of the biggest creativity killers. Thankfully, a well-designed event planning framework (like Planning Pod) can relieve event pros like Laura from the hours of busywork and tedious detail management, so they have more time for brainstorming, taking risks and putting together unique and unforgettable events.
The included event floor plan builder enables you to create colorful, to-scale floor layouts quickly and easily. Simply drag-and-drop items like tables, chairs, AV equipment and kiosks from your customized library or use the auto-formatting tools to create beautiful and innovative event room design options in minutes. This tool is especially beneficial for museum event planners, as it allows them to create templates for their existing spaces and then build unique event setups within them.
“We use the floorplan tool a tremendous amount. Before we had it, we used this old design program that made it difficult and time consuming to create these diagrams. The first time I used Planning Pod’s design tool, I had a design done in no time with seating assignments and everything,” says Laura.
The event timeline builder enables you to develop detailed event itineraries/schedules that keep you, your team and vendors in sync during an event. You can add dates and times, assign tasks to staff or vendors, attach files to each item, and set up automated email and text reminders to managers and task owners.
Planning Pod’s task manager tool organizes your event to-do lists with reusable task list templates that you can import into events. The task list template will automatically back out task due dates from the event date. You can then assign items to staff and clients with due dates and schedule email and text reminders to keep them on task.
Event registration and ticket sales are important for venues hosting their own events, whether those events are free or paid. With Planning Pod’s comprehensive online event registration and ticketing software, you can set up online forms and questionnaires, include embeddable registration forms, create event webpages and manage social media promotions.
It even includes an attendee list manager and check-in tool for processing tickets at the door via QR codes. For social/invitation style events, you can also upload a list of attendees and collect RSVPs online via a custom webpage.
Finally, the budgeting tool lets you build a detailed event budget with projected, negotiated and actual costs – plus payment due dates for vendors and running balances for each line item.
“For our first test run of Planning Pod, we were planning our annual 750-person plated dinner fundraiser. It was a lifesaver for me because, otherwise, I would have had all this event information on dozens of Word documents. It is a better system for managing events than anything I have ever used,” says Laura.
Challenge: Staying on top of businesses and billing details for managing private and group events
Many people are attracted to hosting events at Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum because of their impressive gallery of classic motorcycles and related memorabilia. However, like most museums that house expensive and highly valuable items, Laura and her team are picky about to whom they rent their space out.
Private events help bring in much-needed revenue, but they also present vulnerabilities of damage to the hundreds of vintage motorcycles on exhibit. The bikes are valued at millions of dollars, and any damage to them would be costly.
A perk for clients who do pass the screening process, though, is that they also enjoy the full-service treatment. Laura and her manager Michael handle everything from walk-throughs and billing to setting up the facility for the event itself. This allows them to control what happens at their facility and give their clients an exceptional experience.
“The way we work is that new leads come to Michael, the events manager, and he works with the client regarding what they want to do. Then he issues them a proposal, forwards it to my desk, and it becomes mine after that,” says Laura.
Together, Laura and Michael have to manage and keep track of important client details to ensure a seamless result.
Solution: Full-featured catering and event software for managing leads and customers through every step of the event funnel
From lead tracking and sales to scheduling and invoicing, Planning Pod’s tools and modules let Laura and Michael easily manage and track their private event clients between the two of them. This is especially helpful when catering to clients who may change directions often.
“Often, you’re dealing with people who don’t get back to you quickly about things or change lots of things at the last minute. That’s just the nature of the beast. Planning Pod helps us manage those situations, so we always know what still needs to be done or what has changed,” says Laura.
The comprehensive event booking calendar allows you to easily manage your event scheduling and see all booked events in real-time. The color-coded layout also lets you know what rooms are currently on hold, when walk-throughs are scheduled and if there are any promising leads close to closing.
The booking calendar is a central place to view availability, client appointments, site visits/walkthroughs, tasks, payment due-dates and more – everything you need from a full-featured scheduling software. It also warns you if there are date and time conflicts, which is great for a venue that sees up to 400 events per year.
With our sales CRM manager for events, you can manage all incoming leads and track them through the pipeline so you don’t miss out on an opportunity. You can even embed customized webforms onto your website so you can easily capture information from leads visiting your site. In the CRM tool, you can store contact information as well as details for prospects, clients, staff, vendors and contractors.
Once you’ve closed, you can then invite the new customer into the client portal, where you can share important event details and information with your client. Instead of manual check-ins, clients can simply log into their client portal to sign contracts and proposals, view and pay invoices, see and mark off tasks, share documents and respond to surveys. It’s a great way to enhance your customer experience while saving your team lots of time.
Planning Pod’s proposal and contract building tool saves you time by allowing you to create standardized proposals and line item templates for frequently used packages so you can simply plug-in each event’s specific details and send it to the client for approval.
Electronic signature capabilities make proposals and contracts even easier for both the venue and the client. Once you complete your proposal, simply email it to your client so that they can review and approve with an e-signature.
Invoicing and payments are also simpler with Planning Pod. You can automatically turn a proposal into an invoice with a single click. Then, you can email that invoice directly from the system and schedule automated payment reminders to your client prior to due dates. The client can then pay their invoice online or directly through their client portal on Planning Pod.
You can set clients up with payment installments and automated payments with the invoicing tool. Simply select the due dates, get authorization from your client, and Planning Pod will automatically charge the client’s credit card on the agreed-upon date and time. Clients can also choose to be invoiced for each installment and manually make their payment online.
“I use the invoicing tool all the time. The ability to send people a link to pay or set up payment reminders with online payment forms is so much better than manually keeping credit card information on file. Customers have really appreciated the simplicity of it, and it protects their privacy much better,” said Laura.
Simplify your venue’s event planning process and save hours with Planning Pod’s non-profit event management software
Whether you’re a unique museum venue like Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, or you run a performing arts theater, a community space or any other type of venue that hosts both in-house and private events, we invite you to explore Planning Pod’s all-inclusive venue management system for event sales and catering. With Planning Pod, organizing your events and servicing your customers becomes easier, quicker and more efficient.
Not only does Planning Pod offer a robust CRM tool, calendar and budgeting tool, but it also has extra add-ons that venue owners need – like ticketing platforms, floor planning tools, contract and proposal templates, client portals and more. It’s a perfect compliment for the other systems you may need like museum collections management software, a point-of-sale (POS) program for your gift shop and a membership management and email marketing system.
See how Planning Pod can streamline events at your non-profit space or art gallery and save you 62+ hours/month of busywork. Get started today >>